"You who make us happy"

The dunes of Itampolo, Madagascar

Itampolo is a large village 224 miles to the south of Tulear, on the seafront, living mainly of fishing by the emblematic Vezo fishermen.

On the sandy track that leads to Itampolo, zebu carts, seeming to come from another time, converge towards the market of the neighboring village, a place of exchanges and encounters between the neighboring populations. After crossing two dry rivers due to intense drought, arriving in Itampolo, its paradisiacal beaches and white sand dunes as far as the eyes can see.

In the heart of the country Mafaly, the tombs are hymns to life. They can be real mausoleums painted in bright colors from which all sadness is banished. The ceremonies preceding the burial may extend over several months and are erected funeral poles or "aloalo" where the personality or the favorite pastime of the deceased is carved, whether cyclist, policeman, domino enthusiast, or has a memorable time taking the plane. They seem to perpetuate the vital flux. Horns of zebus cover the whole surface which can surpasses 10 sqare miles, and their number determines the richness of the ancestor, because at his death the whole of his livestock will be decimated and his descendants will have only to rebuild. And let the festival continue, for eternity. Mahafaly literally means in Malagasy "you who make us happy".

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon

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